Results of a statewide before-and-after survey that tracks opinions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) and public awareness of insurance options offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace show a spike in awareness, but also a need for more education on the law. The majority of Mainers now say they have heard “a lot” about the ACA, up from only a one-quarter of those surveyed in the fall of 2013. A third of Maine people indicated that they were aware of enroll207.com, the website developed by MeHAF with Maine-specific resources and information on Obamacare. The survey was completed in April after the end of the first open enrollment period.
According to the survey, one in three Maine people contacted said that over the preceding few months, they had actively sought information on Obamacare, many turning to online sources for information. Only 8% indicated they had asked their health care provider for information about the ACA, yet “doctor or nurse” continued to be reported as the most trusted source of information, the same as in the fall of 2013.
Compared to fall 2013 survey results, the level of trust that Maine people said they had in specific sources of information on Obamacare- including state and federal agencies, employers, and others- declined across the board. “Responses to the survey show that despite the fact that most people say they’ve heard a lot about the law, more work needs to be done to provide objective, factual information so that people will have greater confidence in their understanding of the ACA,” said Dr. Wendy Wolf, President and CEO of MeHAF.
National surveys have shown that even though over 8 million people gained health insurance through state and federal marketplaces, significantly exceeding projected signups, public perception is not consistent with the level of success. “Enrollment Surge Did Not Change the Public’s Views on the ACA,” Kaiser Health News, 4/29/14.
“In Maine, over 44,000 people signed up for a health plan through the Marketplace by the end of March, almost twice the expected number,” said Dr. Wolf. “Ninety percent (90%) of Mainers received financial help to make premiums more affordable. The results of the first open enrollment period were an unqualified success, despite the initial problems with the healthcare.gov website. Growing awareness of Obamacare is a positive trend. Now we need to build greater public confidence in the organizations and groups charged with providing information about how the ACA affects all of us.”
Community nonprofit organizations will continue to provide person-to-person enrollment assistance and educational outreach on the law in before open enrollment for 2015, which starts November 15, 2014. The enroll207.com website lists events and has a directory of certified assisters by town or zip code.
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